Ecurie Ecosse never really got enough credit for winning Le Mans. Twice. In 1956 and 1957. I have been revising and updating our Jaguar book before publishing it as an ebook.
Wagers on the 1956 Le Mans 24 Hours would have received short odds on a win by the works Jaguar D-types. Hawthorn and Bueb, Fairman and Wharton, and Frère and Titterington looked formidable. The engines had the new 35-40 cylinder heads (inlet valves inclined at 35 degrees, exhausts at 40 degrees), raising power output from 186.32kW (250bhp) to 205.07kW (275bhp). However, within five minutes of the start two of the works cars were out, when Paul Frère’s collided with Jack Fairman’s at the Esses. The Hawthorn/Bueb car suffered misfiring due to a fault in the new Lucas fuel injection and dropped back. Fortunately Jaguar had a second string. It had disposed of former works cars to the Scottish team Ecurie Ecosse, a compliment to its organiser David Murray, acknowledging his loyalty to Jaguar since creating the team in 1952. Ninian Sanderson and Ron Flockhart saved the day by winning in an “old” car.
The following year Flockhart and Bueb led a clean sweep of four D-types. Yet another was 6th, making Jaguar’s domination of the world’s greatest sports car race complete. The factory had withdrawn from racing and in recognition of having saved its reputation in 1956, Jaguar secretly lent Ecurie Ecosse one of the latest factory 3.8 litre fuel injected engines. Its 212.53kW (285bhp) made one car comfortably faster than any of the other D-types, including Ecosse’s own second car with carburettors. Against all the odds Ecurie Ecosse won again, covering 4397.28km (2732.42miles), its weaker second string D-type only 122.31km (76miles) behind. They had outpaced or outlasted 54 of the world’s best sports racing cars. Flockhart was paired this time with Englishman Ivor Bueb, Jock Lawrence from Cullen co-drove the other car with Sanderson, and there were five Jaguars among the first six finishers, the only interloper a 3.8 Ferrari in 5th place.
BODY open 2-seater; 2-doors, 2-seats; weight 880kg (1940lb).
ENGINE 6-cylinders, in-line; front; 83mm x 106mm, 3442cc; compr 9:1; 206.56kW (277bhp) @ 6000rpm; 60kW (80.5bhp)/l; 358Nm (267lbft) @ 4000rpm. 1957 see text
ENGINE STRUCTURE two chain driven ohc; aluminium cylinder head, cast iron block; 3 twin choke Weber DCO3 45mm carburettors; 1957 Lucas fuel injection see text; 2 electric fuel pumps; Lucas coil ignition; 7-bearing crankshaft; dry-sump lubrication; 15.9l (3.5gal) oil tank.
TRANSMISSION rear wheel drive; 19.05cm (7.5in) Borg and Beck hydraulic triple dry plate clutch; 4-speed synchromesh gearbox with helical teeth; hypoid final drive 2.53 for Le Mans; alternatives 3.54:1, 2.53:1; 2.69; 2-pinion differential.
CHASSIS brazed 50ton tensile steel tubular detachable front sub-frame; stressed skin 18-gauge magnesium centre section monocoque; ifs by wishbones, torsion bars; rear axle on trailing arms, transverse torsion bar, anti-roll bar; Girling telescopic dampers; hydraulic Dunlop 32.38cm (12.75in) disc brakes; rack and pinion steering; 163.7l (36gal) flexible fuel tanks; Dunlop light alloy perforated disc wheels with knock-off hubs; 6.50-16 Dunlop racing tyres.
DIMENSIONS wheelbase 229.4cm (90.3in); track 127cm (50in); length 410.21cm (161.5in); width 165.9in (65.3in); height 79.06cm (31.125in) at scuttle; 114.3cm (45in) over fin; turning circle 10.67m (35ft); ground clearance under the engine 13.97cm (5.5in).
EQUIPMENT full-width Perspex windscreen
PERFORMANCE (1956) maximum speed 183mph at 6000rpm on 2.79 axle; 54.42kph (33.9mph) @ 1000rpm for Le Mans; 0-100kph (62mph) 7.0sec; fuel consumption 18.8-23.5l/100km (12-15mpg).